Friday, October 14, 2011

Cheating On My Primal Diet

Everything that I made with Debe on our baking day was non-primal except for the Thai Red Chicken Curry before I put it over rice. I kid you not, I gained 5lbs from one cheat day. 5LBS!! That's ridiculous. But so worth it. We made apple pie, chocolate chip cookies with a toffee flavor, coconut cream cheesecake with a chocolate shortbread crust, pork and cabbage potstickers, avocado eggrolls, pork lo mein and Thai red chicken curry. It was a fabulous day. The next day, when I woke up hurting all over from being on my bare feet for 10hrs, weighing in 5lbs heavier and doubled over with a tummy ache, was not so fabulous. Worth it? Absolutely.

I'll share my Thai Red Chicken Curry recipe with you since it was the least cheat-y. Thai curries are pretty basic: garlic, red or green curry paste (I prefer red), coconut milk, protein, veggies and Thai basil and/or cilantro. Add more curry paste if you like it spicier. Steeping some lemongrass in the coconut milk and broth adds a nice, bright note too.

WARNING: DO NOT USE CURRY POWDER INSTEAD OF CURRY PASTE! They are very different things. If you do, you'll end up with something closer to yellow curry, which is AWFUL and smells like feet.

So here's how I did it. I didn't have Thai basil, so I subbed regular basil and mint. (Got that idea from Cook's Illustrated.) It made a pretty good substitute.

Shelly's Thai Red Chicken Curry

1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp garlic
1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
3 Tbsp red curry paste (I like it spicy!)
1/2 small onion, chopped small
1 large red bell pepper, large dice
1 can bamboo shoots, sliced
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped small, about 1/2" pieces
1/2 bag bean sprouts
2 cans coconut milk
1/4 c chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, sliced thin
1/2 tsp lime juice or 3-4 lime leaves, minced
1/2 c basil
1/2 c mint
1/4 c cilantro
Chile-garlic sauce to taste (I only added this because I ran out of curry paste.)

In a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat for 2 min. Add garlic and ginger, saute 1-2 min or until fragrant. Add curry paste and stir to combine. Add veggies and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Shake up cans of coconut milk before opening and pour into pot along with chicken broth. Bring to boil and stir in chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 3-4 min. Stir in lime juice or leaves and herbs. Add chile-garlic sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

This curry was the best I've made yet. The sauce was thick and, since I added cauliflower to the curry, I didn't need to serve it over rice or cauliflower "rice." It was even better the next day. This is one recipe that I will be craving on a regular basis. And that is surprising since I kind of just pulled the recipe out of my...hat.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I had been wanting some chocolate zucchini bread for a while. I tried to make Mom's recipe low carb, but it was having non of it. Turned out totally gross. I foudn this recipe on Healthy Indulgences. It is lower carb, because I used buckwheat flour. But it's very tasty. I used a little more zucchini than it calls for, because my first attempt just tasted like chocolate bread.

6 tablespoons melted butter
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup erythritol or xylitol
3/4 teaspoon stevia extract
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups nut meal (I used almond flour)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour (buckwheat, millet, etc.)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon sea salt (I used kosher, because that's what I had)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini or grated and peeled and grated apple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8x5 loaf pan well. Cut parchment paper to fit in pan. (I left it longer on the sides to use as a kind of sling.) Grate zucchini or apple and press between a dishcloth or paper towels to get out moisture. Whisk melted butter, eggs, whites, vanilla, stevia, and erythritol or xylitol. Beat until sweetener is dissolved. Melt chocolate in 30 second intervals in microwave. Scrape into batter and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients. Add zucchini. Beat well for 2 - 3 minutes. Scrape into pan. Bake for 1 hour, until top springs back when touched. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack for 1 hour. It freezes well.


I couldn't wait an hour for it to cool completely. I wanted a warm piece of chocolate zucchini bread with some butter. It did turn out great. I don't think I use the same size loaf pan this girl does, so mine didn't get very tall. I would recommend beating the whites and folding them into the batter, if you want more lift.

Happy eating!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Healthy Banana Nut Muffins/Bread


I've been wanting some banana bread for a while, and have had several ready to use bananas in the freezer. I want to eat the whole loaf right now! It's delicious, nutritious, and very simple. The recipe is on Healthy Indulgences. Makes 10 muffins or 1 loaf.

4 tablespoons butter, room temp
1/2 cup erythritol
1 tsp vanilla
6 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/4 tsp stevia extract
1/4 tsp sea salt (I used kosher salt, because that's what I had)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat butter with erythritol until fluffy, about 2 -3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Combine coconut flour with baking powder, cinnamon, stevia, and salt. Beat into batter until there are no more lumps. Beat in mashed banana. Fold in nuts, reserving a couple tablespoons for sprinkling on tops. Pour batter almost up to the top of greased muffin papers (the shiny tins work best). Top with nuts. Bake 35 minutes (45 minutes for loaf), covering with a sheet of foil after 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 - 10 minutes. Move muffins from pan onto a cooling rack. When completely cooled, transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for 24 hours, then move to fridge.

The entire house will smell like banana bread for a while, but that makes it taste that much better. When I made this, I didn't beat the butter and erythritol long enough, so it didn't rise like it should. It still tasted good though.

Happy eating!

Slow Cooker Chicken Gumbo

I'm finally posting this after a month, or so. I just made this again and remembered that I hadn't blogged about it yet. I found the recipe on Maria's Nutritious and Delicious Journal. It's an easy recipe that you don't have to stay in the kitchen for hours to make.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in 2 inch pieces
1 - 10 ounce package frozen okra, thawed
2 links andouille sausage, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup chopped onions
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt (I used kosher salt, because that's what I had)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder (I used dried mustard, but I think it's the same thing)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ( I used ground red pepper)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups Contadina Thick and Zesty sauce
2 cups cauliflower rice

In a slow cooker, combine the raw chicken and all the remaining ingredients, except cauliflower rice. Mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or on high for 3 - 4 hours. Serve over cauliflower rice.

I do my cauliflower rice a little differently than what I've read. I pulse some cauliflower in the food processor, until it looks like rice. I then saute it in a skillet with some butter and olive oil. I add some dried thyme and oregano about halfway through. It takes on a slightly nutty taste, but it tastes so good.

Happy eating!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chocolate (Coconut Milk) Shake

I was really wanting something chocolatey, but I've decided to crack down on my cheating. Here's what I ended up having for lunch today. It's pretty tasty and loaded with good fats, antioxidants and protein. Have it alongside a mixed greens salad with a vinaigrette dressing and you've got a great and filling lunch.

2 Tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 c cold coconut milk
1 scoop unflavored whey protein isolate (27g protein in mine!)
1/3 c frozen berries or more
1-2 tsp honey (optional)

Mix the cocoa and coconut oil together in a small bowl and set aside.
In blender, puree coconut milk with protein powder and berries.
With blender running, add chocolate mixture. This should thicken up really quickly.
Sweeten to taste with honey or more berries.

Super yummy, protein-packed, dairy-free shake. As it is, with 2 tsp honey, this shake is 657 cal, 30g carbs, 50g fat & 31g protein. So a pretty hefty calorie load, but super satisfying. To lighten it up a bit, you can certainly use lite coconut milk, cut out the honey and use only 1 Tbsp coconut oil. That will take the calorie load down to less than 400.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Something For Fall

It's September, school has started and even though fall hasn't officially started yet, the weather here has turned cooler. And cooler weather makes me want fall-type foods like pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread. So I made something that turned out to be kind of a hybrid. The recipe I used called it bread, but the middle, even when fully baked, was still a bit creamy like pie filling. It was amazingly delicious. I've made it twice in the past couple weeks and it disappeared pretty quickly both times. The second time, I made some spiced maple cream cheese frosting to go on top and we sprinkled toasted pecans on the top as well.

Pumpkin Pie Bread

1/3 c coconut oil
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c honey
4 tsp xylitol

1 1/2 c pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
1/4 c coconut flour
1 c almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 pan.
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, cook down the pumpkin 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This is to remove some of the liquid and concentrate the flavor.) Transfer pumpkin to large bowl to cool. Stir oil, maple syrup, honey and xylitol into pumpkin. Once pumpkin has cooled to just warm, whisk in eggs and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Dump over pumpkin mixture and stir together.
Pour into greased pan. Bake 45-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out fairly clean.
Allow to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp maple syrup, or more to taste
1/2 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Cream all ingredients together and dollop on top of pumpkin bread.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quick and Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup

The other day, I was at a loss about what to serve for dinner. So, I got out my crock pot, threw in some chicken tenders, a taco spice packet and a little water. I let it cook on low for about 4 hours. By then it was falling apart and shredding nicely. The flavor was a bit bland, so I added about 1 1/2 cups of homemade salsa to it. Still not quite what I wanted, but we ate it anyway.

A few days later, we still had quite a bit of the chicken left. Everyone was tired of eating it straight, so I decided to try something. I put 1/2 cup of homemade salsa in a bowl, added 1/2 cup of chicken broth and a big scoop of the shredded chicken. I popped it all in the microwave until it was hot, added a dollop of sour cream and a bit of shredded cheese. There you have it! A very simple and very quick bowl of tortilla soup (minus the tortilla strips of course).

My salsa recipe is very simple as well:

Get out your food processor.
Core and quarter 2lbs of tomatoes
Peel and quarter an onion.
Remove the stem (and seeds, if you don't want it spicy) from 1-2 jalapenos.
Dump all those in the food processor and pulse until chopped small.
Add 1-2 Tbsp chopped garlic, 2-4 Tbsp lime juice, one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and a handful of cilantro or parsley.
Process it all until it is finely chopped and well mixed.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Avocado-Tomato Salad with Chimichurri

I went out to Bar Louie last night. I had a steak with chimichurri sauce on it. It was amazing. But my favorite part of the meal was the avocado and tomato salad. It was drizzled with the chimichurri too and it was amazing. I ate that first and the steak was kind of an after thought. I think I would have rather had more of the salad and skipped the steak altogether. I decided that I had to make it at home and found that chimichurri sauce is amazingly easy to make. All you need is the ingredients (all were already in my fridge and/or pantry) a bowl, a whisk, a glass measuring cup and either a blender or food processor.

Chimichurri Sauce

1/4 c hot water
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp kosher salt or 1 tsp table salt
1 1/3 c parsley
2/3 c cilantro
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c good extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine hot water, oregano and salt. Let sit 5 minutes.
In food processor or blender, pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic and red pepper until roughly chopped. Add water mixture and pulse to combine.
Pour mixture back into the medium bowl and whisk in olive oil.
Cover and let sit at room temp for at least 1 hour. Store in fridge but bring to room temp before using.

Avocado-Tomato Salad

1 large avocado
1 large tomato
1/4 head iceberg lettuce or spring mix greens

Shred the lettuce and put in medium bowl.
Slice avocado and tomato. Place on top of lettuce, alternating avocado slice then tomato slice.
Spoon chimichurri sauce over the top.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I don't remember if I've blogged about this recipe before.  If not, that is an injustice that must be corrected as soon as possible.  If I have, well, it's worth blogging about twice!  A couple of ladies at work told me about how great this recipe is (from Giada on foodnetwork.com).  At first, I was a bit hesitant, because I've never been a huge fan of meatloaf. I always ate it when it was served, but never craved it or asked to have it for dinner.  However, my opinion on meatloaf has been changed because of this delightful spin on a classic.  I told Missy that I was making meatloaf for dinner tonight and I could tell she was less than enthused.  When she took her first bite, I could tell she also agrees that this recipe should be a staple in any home.  Let me know what you think!


Ingredients

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic and herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat

Directions

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, if using, eggs, milk, feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.
Carefully pack the meat mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Put on a serving platter and serve.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Oven-Roasted Pork Loin with Apples and Cranberries


Pork loin was on sale this week, so I picked one up. Of course, I had no idea what I was going to do with it once I got it home, but Cook's Illustrated helped me figure that out. I found this recipe and it sounded so yummy that I had to make it. I tweaked it a bit to use what I had on hand and this is what I came up with.

Oven-Roasted Pork Loin with Apples and Cranberries

4 oz (1 c) dried apple-sweetened cranberries
1/2 c apple cider
1 pork loin roast (2 1/2 to 3 lbs)
1 Tbsp Herbs de Provance
Salt & Pepper
3 Tbsp walnut oil - coconut oil would work nicely too
1/2 small onion, medium dice
1 lb Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored & sliced 1/2" thick
2 Tbsp Apple Brandy (optional)
2 Tbsp butter, cold

Move oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine cranberries and cider in a microwave-safe bowl. Nuke on high for 30 seconds. Set aside until needed.
Rub herbs, salt and pepper into all sides of the pork roast.
Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a heavy, oven-safe skillet over medium-high until smoking. Sear roast on all sides. Set aside on a large plate.
Add remaining oil and onion to pan. Saute 3-4 minutes or until golden.
Add apples and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes or until they are golden too.
Pour cider and cranberries into pan.
Nestle pork roast into pan, stick meat thermometer into thickest part of roast and transfer to the oven.
Remove from oven when it reaches 140-145 degrees.
Transfer roast to cutting board and cover lightly with foil. Let rest until thermometer reads 150 degrees F, 15-20 minutes.
If the pan is a little dry, add the brandy and bring it to a boil to cook out the alcohol flavor. Whisk butter into the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.
Slice roast in 1/2" thick slices and serve, spooning apple mixture over pork.

We had this with some steamed broccoli and a salad. The original recipe called for 1 Tbsp brown sugar, but I left it out of this recipe because it was a little too sweet for my taste. If it needs a little more sweetness at the end, you can always add a little of your favorite sweetener or a little more apple cider.

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers With 2 Dipping Sauces

Chicken fingers are Joshua's favorite thing to eat. If we go out to eat, that's what he orders every time, if the restaurant has them. If they don't, he's one disappointed kid. So I figured it was time to make some that are primal-friendly so I can feel better about him eating them all the time. All that wheat flour breading and peanut or canola oil is a little unsettling to me.

There really isn't anything complicated about making breaded chicken. It's just messy, the main reason I avoid doing it. The other reason, I've had a bad experience with raw chicken. (see my last chicken recipe post) But since I have a big tub of disinfecting wipes and a box of latex gloves under the kitchen sink, I have been more willing to work with raw chicken.

The kids just ate these with honey-mustard sauce, ketchup or straight honey while Eric and I put them on some salad and drizzled the honey-mustard over it all. Yummy. Eric was full after just two chicken fingers with salad. I was stress eating and ate four. But I was really overly-full afterward. I think two would have been plenty. Next time, I think I may brine the chicken to keep it a bit more moist. I think the almond flour dried them out a bit.

Here's the simple recipe along with a couple sauces that are great for dipping.

2 lbs chicken tenders or breasts cut into strips
4 c almond flour
4 eggs
Salt & Pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Cayenne pepper
Coconut oil for frying

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs together with salt and pepper.
In another medium bowl, combine almond flour and seasonings, to taste.
Remove any fat from the chicken.
Dip chicken into flour, then egg and back into flour. They should be well coated.
Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet after coating.
Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat until shimmering.
Working in batches, not over-crowding the pan, brown chicken for 2 minutes. Turn them over and brown for another 2 minutes.
Move browned chicken to another foil-lined baking sheet and start another batch browning.
Once the chicken fingers have all been browned, bake for 10 minutes.

While chicken fingers are baking, make your dipping sauces.

Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce
(Perfect as a salad dressing as well)

1/2 c Dijon mustard
4-6 Tbsp honey
Salt & pepper

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. If you like your honey-mustard spicier, use the smaller amount of honey and add more if needed.

Buffalo Wing Dipping Sauce

1/4 c butter, melted
1/4 - 1/2 c hot sauce

Whisk together. Start with the smaller amount of hot sauce and add more until it's as hot as you like it.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homemade Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping - No Chemicals!

I worked at the DQ when I was in high school. I have no idea how many Dilly bars and ice cream cones I dipped in the shell stuff over those years. Or how many "chocolate chip" milkshakes and blizzards I made with it. I loved to dip a cone in the shell, stick it in the freezer to harden and then double-dip it. It ended up with a thick coating of chemical-filled, artificially flavored, chocolatey goodness. Loved it. I even tried the kind I found at the grocery store, that was years and years ago. But no more of that junk for me, especially since trying to cut out anything with ingredients that I can't pronounce. Ever read the ingredients list for your sundae toppings? Yuck!

I happened upon this recipe the other day on this blog and just had to try it, you know, for old time's sake. This was one of the easiest things I've ever made. I'm serious. Super-duper simple and much tastier than the store-bought crap that is all chemicals and artificial junk. It's 3 ingredients and can easily be made sugar-free using Stevia.

Side note: I have found some amazing sounding recipes on that blog. Check it out.

Magic Shell Topping

6 Tbsp melted coconut oil
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
4 Tbsp honey or to taste - it was too sweet for me, so I added more cocoa until I could handle it.

Mix it all together in a bowl until it's smooth. Drizzle over ice cream and let it harden. Viola!

All three ingredients are shelf-stable, so you don't need to refrigerate it. Transfer the Magic Shell to a air-tight container and put it in the pantry. Coconut oil gets super hard in the fridge, like chip a tooth hard. So if you do refrigerate it, you'll need to melt it before using it.

I put it over some Haagen Daz 5 Ingredient Vanilla ice cream and topped it all with some homemade, unsweetened, bing cherry compote. I'm telling you, it was heaven in a bowl.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gazpacho-Salsa-Tortilla Soup

Last week, I decided to try making myself some gazpacho. I'd never had it before, but from the recipe I was looking at, I thought it would be amazing. Like eating a bowl of salsa. Sadly, I didn't like it very much at all. I did stray from the recipe a bit by 1) putting everything through the food processor in batches rather than chopping, 2) using an English cucumber without peeling it, 3) adding a jalapeno instead of hot sauce and 4) using a whole medium Vidalia onion instead of just half. (I don't use sweet onions very often and thought it would go bad if I didn't use the whole thing.)

Don't get me wrong, it tasted okay. I think that I just have a bit of a mental block when it comes to cold soup. In my experience, soup is always hot or room temperature, never cold. I tried eating it a couple times and just couldn't do it.I knew there had to be some way to salvage all these veggies that I used for the gazpacho, so I searched online. I decided to use half of it for salsa, not a big leap, and the rest for some sauce for meatballs.

Baked Salmon with Pineapple Peach Salsa





I went to the Olive Oil Store the other day and bought Lemon Olive Oil (which I use ALL the time, but sadly ran out) and Peach Balsamic Vinegar.  I liked the thought of mixing the two together in salads and was day dreaming about all of the wonderful recipes I could make with this delicious combination.  I decided that I'd create something fresh and full of flavor, and this is what I came up with!  I have to say that I am so impressed with myself, because this meal was incredible!

2 salmon fillets
1 T Lemon Olive Oil
1 t Peach Balsamic Vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix olive oil and vinegar together and use either your hands or basting brush to coat salmon.  Sprinkle with s & p and bake in 350 oven for 12-15 minutes or until internal temp is 145.

While the salmon is baking, you can make your salsa.  It's so simple and will probably be better after it sits for a day or so.

1 c. fresh pineapple chopped into small pieces
1 c. skin on peaches finely chopped
1/4 c. red onion finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
handful of fresh cilantro finely chopped
1-2 T peach vinegar (to taste)
a pinch of salt

Mix everything together and let sit

Once your salmon is done, just spoon a generous amount of the salsa on top and serve.  I ate mine with steamed broccoli.  It would probably be good with asparagus too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eric's Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipe

Eric and I were brainstorming dinner ideas the other night and this is one he came up with. It was a bit of a job stuffing them, definitely needed two extra hands or a lot of extra counter space. I don't have much counter space, so Eric was drafted as my sous chef. We served the chicken with mashed turnips (which were totally amazing, by the way) and steamed asparagus.

These are really good, but I'm still going to experiment with different fillings. I'd never done stuffed chicken breasts before, I don't like having to handle raw chicken. (I had a bad experience, gave Suzy food poisoning once cause I didn't clean up well enough.) But I faced my fear, disinfected everything and once I was done with the cutting board and knife, they went straight into the dishwasher. And everyone seems to still be healthy. Woohoo! Now that I know it's not as scary or difficult as I expected, I'm going to be stuffing all kinds of things into my chicken breasts. I'll post any winners.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grain-Free Fudgy Brownies

Eric asked me to make brownies for him again, but the wasn't quite as impressed with the last batch as I was. So we tried the recipe from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. I really wish we hadn't. They were awful! They smelled so good and looked pretty good, but they tasted nasty. So, we stuffed those down the disposal made another batch. They turned out wonderfully. We used Cook's Illustrated's Chewy Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies recipe and used almond and coconut flour instead of the regular flour. Not primal, but still grain-free.

5 oz Ghiradelli 86% dark chocolate
2 Tbsp coconut oil
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
9 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz almond flour
1-2 Tbsp coconut flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 8 x 8 pan with foil using the *sling method and butter the foil.
Melt chocolate, oil and butter together in double-boiler. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Whisk eggs and sugar together in small bowl. When chocolate mixture is slightly cooled, whisk egg mixture, vanilla and salt into chocolate. Fold or whisk in flours, using 1 Tbsp of coconut flour. If batter isn't as thick as you like, use the second Tbsp of coconut flour. (We used 2 Tbsp.)
Bake 35-40 min or until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
These will cut much better when they are cool, so try to be patient. If you can't wait, lift the brownies out of the pan with the foil sling and cut into 1" cubes. Or just top the whole thing with some vanilla ice cream and chopped nuts and grab a spoon.

*Sling method: Fold a 12 x 12 piece of foil into a 7 x 12 rectangle. Press into pan leaving a handle on either side. Repeat with a second piece of foil laid perpendicular to the first piece. Your pan will be completely lined and the brownies will lift out for easy cooling and cutting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Eric and I made these tonight for dinner. They were so tasty and super simple.

8 med bell peppers, red or green
2 med onions, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
2-3 tomatoes, 2-3" diameter, chopped
1 taco sauce mix packet - We used the kind you find at Safeway with the small packages of dried chiles and other Mexican spices. It's just spices, no fillers or starches
1/2- whole habenero chile, chopped very small
1 1/2 c grated cheese - We used half jack & half sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 9 x 13 pan with foil.
Brown the beef with the onions. Add tomatoes, flavor packet and 1/3 cup water and cook 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add chile pepper, cook 2 minutes.
Cut tops off of peppers and remove seeds and ribs and place in foil-lined pan. Fill peppers with meat filling. Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top of peppers and bake until melted.
Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Grain-Free Brownies!!

Yesterday was Eric's birthday. Happy Birthday!! Since we've gone primal, we were going to pass on birthday cake. (We've both tried cheating with grains and have regretted it a lot.) But he found a brownie recipe that I decided to try. It called for rice flour, but I substituted coconut flour instead. The recipe does call for brown sugar, and I used it since I had it on hand, but honey or agave could be substituted to make it more primal-friendly.

Since I have had lousy results with baking since cutting out grains, I was worried that these wouldn't turn out well. But they did! They were slightly fudgy and moist and chocolaty. Delicious, except they were too salty. So here's the recipe after I swapped out the rice flour and cut back on the salt.


Grain-Free Dark Chocolate Brownies
Makes 8 x 8 pan

5 oz dark chocolate, chopped - I used 90% dark
1/2 c unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 oz almond meal
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 c chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Take a 12" long piece of foil and fold it lengthwise so you have a 7 x 12" rectangle. Line 8 x 8" pan with foil, leaving the excess foil hanging over the edges of the pan. (This creates a sling. You'll use the excess foil as handles so the brownies lift easily from the pan.) Spray or butter the foil and exposed sides of the pan.
Combine chocolate and butter in medium bowl. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. Stir until smooth and set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer, beat eggs until frothy. Add brown sugar and beat until combined and no longer grainy. Slowly add chocolate mixture to eggs. When thoroughly mixed, add vanilla.
In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add to mixer bowl and beat until well combined. (Since there's no gluten to worry about, you don't have to worry about over beating quite so much.)
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips if using.
Pour batter into pan and spread evenly with rubber spatula.
Bake 32-35 minutes.
Cool before removing from pan using foil sling and cutting into 1" squares.

Notes:
I found these to be sweet enough without the chocolate chips. In fact, I may cut back on the sugar next time. They are also very rich and very filling. I ate too much because they tasted so good and ended up with an upset stomach. Beware when eating goods made with almond and coconut flours. They are much more filling than those made with regular white or whole wheat flours.

You change the flavor by decreasing the vanilla to 1 tsp and adding 1-2 tsp of peppermint, almond or some other extract.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini

I was reading Shelly's last post for the zucchini lasagna and remembered this recipe.  It doesn't have bread stuffing, so I didn't feel at all guilty for eating a rather large helping!  This recipe is on closetcooking.com.

Ingredients:
2 large zucchinis
1 tablespoon oil
2 Italian Sausage (casings removed)
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tomatoes (diced)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon basil (chopped)
1/2 cup mozzarella (grated)
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)

Directions:
1. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle.
2. Chop the zucchini that was scooped out and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a pan.
4. Add the sausage and brown.
5. Add the onion and saute until tender.
6. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
7. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan.
8. Add the chopped zucchini, tomato, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
9. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.
10. Let the stuffing cool.
11. Mix in half of the cheese.
12. Stuff the zucchinis with the stuffing and top with the remaining cheese.
13. Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the zucchinis are tender and the cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lasagna With Zucchini "Noodles"

I have been meaning to get this recipe posted for almost a week now. Sorry it's taken me so long.

I was worried, while I was making this, that the kids wouldn't eat it. I shouldn't have worried. They all loved it. None of us missed the pasta noodles at all. I used my mandolin to slice the zucchini about 1/8" thick and layered it all just like regular lasagna. Unlike regular lasagna though, I had to use a sharp knife to cut it into pieces rather than just using the spatula. That was the only drawback and really, it's pretty minor.

Lasagna With Zucchini "Noodles"

4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/8" thick
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 - 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 - 28oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
24oz cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 c fresh basil, minced or 2 Tbsp dried
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1-1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large 12" skillet or dutch oven heat oil over med heat. Add onions add cook 4 minutes or until just beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook 1 min more. Add ground beef to the pan and break up while browning. After 4 minutes, pour in cream and continue cooking until all the liquid has boiled away and just the fat is left. Add salt, pepper and canned tomatoes and stir to combine. Turn heat to med-low and allow flavors to meld while you prepare the cheese filling.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Add cottage and Parmesan cheeses, basil, salt and pepper. Stir together thoroughly.

Assembly:
Scoop about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and spread it around. Arrange a layer of zucchini to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/4 of the cheese over the zucchini. Top with 1 1/2 c sauce. Repeat these layers 3 more times, pouring the remaining sauce over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and the zucchini is soft. Remove pan from oven and turn oven to broil. Top lasagna with mozzarella cheese and broil until melted, brown and bubbly.
Allow lasagna to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Variations on the same theme:
 - I am making something similar tonight. It's more of a ratatouille than a lasagna and my husband called it "Ratatouille Lasagna." I didn't use the cheese and used Italian sausage instead of ground beef. I layered zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant with the sauce. I added the basil to the sauce since there was no cheese and baked it all together until it was soft. After serving, we topped it with a little goat cheese for a bit of tang. If you are not opposed to eating bread, a crusty baguette would be wonderful with this. Or maybe some rice.
 - You could leave the meat out of the sauce and serve grilled salmon or chicken with the ratatouille version.

 - You could add more veggies to the lasagna, such as spinach, mushrooms, broccoli or eggplant.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Almost Primal Chocolate Chip Scones

I found this recipe and just had to make it. I tweaked it a bit like I am apt to do these days to make my food more primal. I was hopeful, but still a bit skeptical about these. I've found many recipes for primal baked goods that got rave reviews. But when I tried them, they were horrible. I'm a bit picky about my baked goods. These were amazing. My kids gobbled them up in less than 5 minutes. I think that they'll become a breakfast staple at our house now.

Instead of using canola oil, I used coconut oil. I melted it and mixed it with the eggs, but it solidified in the eggs. So next time, I'll cut in the coconut oil like I would with butter. I used table salt instead of kosher, I just used half as much. I also used honey instead of agave nectar. I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips because that's what I had on hand. They were a bit too sweet for my taste, so next time I'll use 1-2 Tbsp of honey if I use extra dark chocolate or just leave it out altogether, especially if I use semi-sweet chips again. These would be really good with wild blueberries and lemon curd too.


So here's how I'll make them next time:

Chocolate Chip Scones
(makes 8 large scones)

2 1/2 c almond flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4-1/2 c chopped 85% dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in solid coconut oil.
In small bowl combine eggs and honey. Pour into dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula.
Stir in chocolate.
Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop dough onto pan.
Bake 15-17 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs

I was looking over recipes I've saved and found this one for Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs.  I've made this recipe before and decided to make some minor adjustments this time.  This recipe is from closetcooking.com.  It's supposed to serve two, but I made the entire recipe for dinner just for me!  It ws delicious!



Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 medium tomatoes (diced)
1/4 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 T white wine
1 handful fresh herbs (chopped, I used dill and parsley)
1/2 cup feta (crumbled)
2 eggs

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Add the tomato, oregano, salt and pepper and wine and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5-10 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and mix in the fresh herbs and feta.
6. Divide between two individually sized baking dishes, indent the centers with a spoon and crack the eggs into the indentations.  (I put everything in one oven safe bowl and made two indents for the eggs)
7. Bake in a preheated 425F oven until the sauce is bubbly and the egg whites have just set, about 8-14 minutes.

Crunchy Low-Carb Snack Bars

I've been craving something sweet lately and saw this recipe on gfrealfood.com.  It only took me a few minutes and as I snitched a bite here and there and I realized I put a pretty good dent in the pan of bars.  I didn't have erythirol, so I used a different sweetener.  I'll make these time and time again.





Crunchy No-Bake Snack Bars

Ingredients:
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup golden flax meal (could also use sesame seed meal)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond butter (could also use peanut or mac nut butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of raw honey
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon of pure stevia extract (NuNaturals brand!)

Easy Chocolate Ganache Topping

Ingredients:
4 squares of 85% cacao chocolate
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening (could also use more coconut oil or organic unsalted butter)
1 tablespoon erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon organic heavy cream (or full fat coconut milk)

Preparation:
For Snack Bars:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Toast coconut and nuts in a dry pan over medium-low heat or the toaster oven, until slightly browned. Pulse nut and seed mixture in a food processor just until nuts are chopped. Melt coconut oil and nut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla extract, honey, erythritol, stevia, and sea salt, stirring until incorporating. Fold into nut mixture. Press into an 8 by 4 pan with a spatula. Quick set in the freezer for 20 minutes. Cut into 6 bars. Store in the refrigerator, covered with a paper towel and plastic wrap.

For Ganache Topping:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Melt shortening and chocolate in microwave in for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in cream, erythritol, and stevia, until mixture is completely blended. Spread over cooled bars immediately.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Supremes De Volaille Aux Champignons

When I lived in Pittsburgh, I went to a cooking class and we learned to make this recipe.  It's basically chicken with a mushroom cream sauce.  It's incredible!  When I was at the store today, I remembered this recipe and got excited because it's primal.  I made steamed broccoli on the side and it was the perfect dinner.

Chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
5 T butter
1 T minced shallot
1/4 cup diced fresh mushrooms
1/2 t lemon juice
salt and pepper

Heat butter until foaming.  Stir in minced shallot and saute for 1 minute.  Stir in mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt.

Rub chicken with a couple of drops of lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in parchment paper lined baking dish.  Pour butter and mushroom mixture over the chicken.  Take another piece of parchment paper and butter it.  Place butter side down over chicken.  Cook in 400 degree oven until chicken is 165 degrees.

Sauce:
4 T butter
1/4 c diced mushrooms
1/4 c chicken stock
1/4 c white wine
1 c whipping cream
lemon juice to taste

Melt butter and add mushrooms.  Add chicken stock and white wine and boil down over high heat until liquid is syrupy.  Stir in cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly.  Of  heat, taste carefully for seasoning, add drops of lemon juice to taste.

Cut chicken into slices on the bias and plate.  Drizzle cream sauce over top, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dark Chocolate Mousse

I recently had a cooking day with my friend Debe. Sadly, it was cut short because her daughter, Tessa, fell on the trampoline and broke her arm. We made Garlic Pulled Pork which was still slow-roasting when Debe rushed Tessa to the ER. That was the only thing that we'd started. We had planned to make collard greens with bacon and garlic to go with the pork and some Dark Chocolate Mousse too. I figured that after an evening spent in the ER with a child in pain, she was going to need some chocolate when she got home. So I decided to go ahead and make the mousse without her. After all, I had to stick around until either she or her husband got home because her son was there with me and my kids. He's too young to stay home alone. May as well make some awesome dessert, right?!

It turned out pretty perfect in my opinion. It's light and fluffy because it has both whipped egg whites and whipped cream folded into it. I used xylitol instead of sugar and it still turned out great. I used a Cook's Illustrated recipe and tweaked it to my own liking. The original recipe called for 1 tsp espresso and 1 Tbsp brandy. I'm not a fan of coffee in my chocolate and Debe didn't have any brandy, only dark rum, so I skipped those this time. I think the brandy would really enhance the flavor though. Next time I'll add it.

For everyone out there going "strictly primal," I think this would taste just as good, even a bit richer, if you left out the whipped cream.

Premium Dark Chocolate Mousse - serves 8

8 oz Premium Dark Chocolate 62-70% cacao - I used 70% Ghiradelli
3 Tbsp sugar or xylitol
2 Tbsp cocoa powder - preferably Dutch-processed
7 Tbsp water
3 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/8 tsp salt
1 c heavy cream

Melt chocolate, cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp sugar and water over boiling water or in microwave. Whisk until smooth.
Whisk egg yolks and 1 1/2 tsp sugar together. Whisk in chocolate mixture and brandy.
With electric mixer or stand mixer, beat egg whites and remaining 1 1/2 tsp sugar to stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 egg whites into chocolate mixture at a time.
Using same bowl and beater, beat heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold in 1/2 at a time into chocolate mixture, making sure there are no white streaks remaining.
Spoon into individual serving dishes, cover with plastic and chill at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chocolate Mousse

There are a few people at work that are changing their diets to eat more naturally, less sugar and carbs.  I love that there are several of us that can share delicious recipes.  I have to say that this recipe is the most genius recipe I've tried so far.  I love chocolate and jump at any opportunity to eat "healthy chocolate"!  At first when I was told about the main ingredient, I was hesitant to even try it because the main ingredient is avocado.  Who would ever think that avocado is the perfect dessert food?  This literally took me 5 minutes to make and I can't wait for it to be completely chilled so I can devour it!!  This recipe is from http://autonomieproject.wordpress.com/



  • 4 Ripe Organic Avocados
  • 1 Cup of Sweetener (Agave Nectar or Evaporated Cane Juice)
  • 1 Tbls of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup of Organic Fair Trade Cocoa Powder (or Carob)
Slice each avocado open and scoop out the insides. Place the inside in a food processor or blender. Next add the sweetener, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Blend or process the mixture until fully blended. The mixture should be smooth and the color of chocolate. You can instantly serve the mousse, however we recommend you let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour. Serve in cups with fresh fruit or mint. Some of our favorite fruits we like to add are strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and sometimes pineapple

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Low-Carb Blueberry Muffins

One of the things I miss most about eating low carb is not baking anymore.  There's something almost therapeutic about mixing all of the ingredients together, waiting for it to finish baking, the house being filled with delicious smells and then devouring mass quantities of the glorious result.  I decided that I would find low carb options so that I can still have the experience without the guilt of indulging too much.  I wouldn't say that this recipe was as good as your usual gluten filled option, but it's a good alternative.  Since it's mostly eggs, they come out very moist.  I didn't have fresh blueberries, so I used fresh raspberries, which I enjoyed.  I think I'll toy with the recipe to see if adding more coconut flour or baking powder would make these more "cake-like".  This recipe is good for anyone on a gluten free diet or a low carb diet.  The coconut flour has minimal amounts of carbs, but most of the carbs are fiber, so the net carbs are next to nothing.  The honey obviously has carbs in it, but it's a way better option than refined sugar.


3 eggs, room temperature
2 T coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, defrost them and dry them in paper towels)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin with paper or oil. Whisk together eggs, oil, and honey. Add salt, vanilla, nutmeg, coconut flour and baking powder. Whisk until smooth. Gently fold in blueberries. Try not to mix too much or your batter will be blue. Spoon into 6 muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Primal-Friendly Muffins


I was looking for a recipe for biscuits that I could eat and still stick to my new diet. I've had a craving for biscuits and sausage gravy for the longest time. I like fluffy biscuits, not hockey pucks, with my gravy, and it's been tough to find a recipe that looked like it would work. This recipe looked best out of the many recipes I went through.

I decided to try them out and was surprised at how fluffy they turned out. These "biscuits" have a texture more like muffins than biscuits. They are fairly delicate too, so I don't think they'll work for biscuits and gravy. They would, however, make really good cupcakes with some mini chocolate chips and a bit of sugar or breakfast muffins with some blueberries or currants.

So this recipe won't be the one I go to when I want biscuits, but I will keep it on hand for those times when muffins or cupcakes would hit the spot.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cauliflower "Mac and Cheese"

With this new "low carb" initiative, I've been trying to find ways to make my normal food into more appropriate meals.  The thought of not eating mac and cheese anymore was almost unbearable!  I've been subbing cauliflower for starchy foods like mashed potatoes, so I thought it might work as a substitute for pasta as well.  AND IT DID!  I didn't use a recipe, I just threw stuff together, so here's my rough guesses of what I did.  Please let me know if you try it and if I should make adjustments:

Steam 1 head of cauliflower (cut into bite size pieces) until it's fork tender (don't over cook, or it won't hold it's shape when you toss with the cheese sauce, and then you'll just have cheesy cauliflower mush!...that would still taste good, just not what we're going for here)  Drain the cauliflower and make sure all excess water is gone, or your sauce will be runny.

Cheese Sauce:
2 T butter
2 T flour (I know it's not primal, but I guess I'll live!)
2 C milk
1/4 t ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 C shredded cheese (I just used what I had on hand, some smoked mozzarella, colby jack and provolone)  You may need more cheese, just add as needed until your sauce is the right consistency.
Extra cheese to sprinkle on top

In saucepan melt butter.  Once butter stops bubbling, add flour.  Whisk together and let cook for 1 minute.  Add milk and stir to combine.  Let cook until mixture begins to thicken.  Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Once incorporated, add shredded cheese and cook until melted and smooth.  Mix steamed cauliflower in with cheese sauce and coat liberally (no skimping on cheese sauce!).  Pour into baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  Bake in 350 oven for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted.  Then set oven on broiler and bake until cheese is golden brown.  

Next time I make this, I'm going to experiment with adding other ingredients like bacon or ham.  I felt like I was missing some protein, but I guess I could make this a side dish instead of main dish!  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Amazing Primal Beef Stew

I took a Test Kitchen recipe and tweaked it a bit for dinner tonight. It was amazing. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a handful of parsley. The original recipe called for some, but I forgot to pick some up when I did the shopping. I'll be adding it for leftovers tomorrow.

Primal Beef Stew
4 slices bacon, chopped small
3 lbs beef spare ribs, cut in bite-size pieces
Salt & Pepper
2 medium onions, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c red wine (I used a 2009 McWilliams Shiraz)
3 1/2 c chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 tsp thyme
3/4 lb carrots, 1/4" slices
4 ribs celery 1/4 - 1/2" slices
1 bag frozen pearl onions
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
1/4 c arrowroot powder 
1/4 c water
1/4-1/2 c parsley (to taste)

In a heavy, oven-proof dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving fat in the pan, and drain on paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Toss beef with salt and pepper in a large bowl. Increase heat to med-high and cook 1/2 beef at a time until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the beef. Heat oven to 300 degrees.
Add chopped onions to pot and saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add wine. Bring to a simmer and scrape browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Allow wine to reduce slightly, by 1/4 or so. Add chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, carrots and celery. Return beef and bacon to the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover with lid and put in oven. Cook undisturbed for 1 1/2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours, add pearl onions and mushrooms. Return to oven and continue to cook 30 minutes longer, or until pearl onions are slightly soft and beef is tender.
Remove pan from oven and heat over medium heat on the stove top. Bring to a simmer. Whisk arrowroot powder and water together in a small bowl. Drizzle into stew while stirring. Continue to stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add parsley and serve.

We had ours with a side of pureed cauliflower, mixed greens salad and a glass of the leftover wine. It was wonderful after a long day and would be perfect for a rainy day dinner.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Zucchini Alfredo with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli

Last week, I made some pretty amazing alfredo sauce and put it over tri-colored pasta with some broccoli and chicken-garlic-spinach sausage. It was so good. But, we are changing our diet and cutting out all grains. That means no more pasta at all. That is one thing that I am really going to miss, or at least I thought I would.

Tonight I decided to try making the alfredo sauce with the chicken sausage and broccoli again. This time, I used my oh-so-handy mandolin to cut zucchini into "noodles." Now these little, slippery buggers were so thin that I was concerned that if I tried to cook them they'd turn into mush. So, I made the sauce and stirred in the zucchini "noodles" in the sauce raw. The heat from the sauce cooked them just enough to soften them up a bit without turning them to mush. And let me tell you, I didn't miss pasta at all. It was so good! We were having spinach salad with it and Eric ripped up some of his and put it in his bowl to add a little more body. That was really good too. I think, next time, I'll chop some spinach and put it in at the same time as the zucchini. Super tasty stuff.

Sorry the picture is fuzzy. I took it with my phone.

Paleo Alfredo - super simple and super yummy

1 1/2 c heavy cream (I used organic)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt
nutmeg
3 fully-cooked Chicken sausage links, halved lengthwise and then in 1/4" slices
1/2 pound broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
3/4 pound zucchini, shredded with a grater or mandolin

Bring 1 cup of cream and butter to a boil in heavy sauce pan. Simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced to 2/3 cup. After 5 minutes, start steaming the broccoli and add the sausage to the cream.
When cream is reduced, add the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, Parmesan cheese, pepper and broccoli. Add salt and nutmeg to taste. Stir in the zucchini and allow to warm through.
Serve while still warm. If sauce thickens too much, thin down with a little water.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken with Champagne Cream Sauce

Let me start off by admitting that I really wasn't excited about this recipe. I didn't want to make it at all. And I apologize for not having pictures, it disappeared pretty quickly.



Eric made me a mimosa with my Mother's Day breakfast and we had most of a bottle of prosecco that needed to get used. And although it was a day to celebrate, there really is no excuse to drink a whole bottle of champagne for breakfast, especially by one's self. So, since by the end of the day it was flat, we decided that the next best thing to drinking it would be to cook with it.


I scoured the internet for recipes and none of them sounded very good to me. But out of them all, this one looked the best, even if it only called for 1/2 cup of champagne.


I am SO glad that I found this recipe and made it rather than letting the champagne go bad in the fridge and then dump it down the sink. It was so amazingly good! There are a few changes that I made to the recipe to conform to our new diet and there are a couple more that I'll make when I make it again. (Notice I said when not if.) For one thing, by the time my chicken was fully cooked on the inside, the outside was bordering on burnt and all the brown bits sticking to the pan were charred.


So here's the original recipe. And here's how I think it should be done:


6 chicken cutlets*
2/3 c almond flour (gluten-free and adds a great flavor)
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
4 sliced prosciutto, diced small
4 Tbsp butter, divided
1/2 c dry champagne or leftover white wine
1/2 c heavy cream
1 tsp dry tarragon


Line a baking sheet with foil.
Pour almond flour into a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in almond flour.
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, not non-stick, over medium heat. When shimmering, add half the chicken to the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken. Once it is all browned, place in oven at 350 degrees to finish cooking through if it is not fully cooked. If it is cooked through, turn oven to 200 degrees and place in oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
Heat 2 Tbsp butter in the now empty pan. Once it is melted, add shallots and cook for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add prosciutto and cook for 1 more minute.
Pour champagne or white wine into pan, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Once it is reduced by 1/2 add the cream and tarragon. Return to a simmer, cook 2 minutes, stirring to combine. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp butter.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Serve chicken with champagne sauce over the top.


*You can make your own by slicing 3 chicken breasts in half. Place your hand on the top, press down firmly and gently slice through horizontally with a very sharp knife.


We really enjoyed ours alongside a simple salad and steamed broccoli. If you don't have diet restrictions, this would be really tasty with some mashed or baked potatoes.


Enjoy!